Kampala. A Swiss-based global healthcare company Novartis is in discussions with Tanzania’s Health Ministry and the Mission for Essential Medical Supply (MEMS) to kick-starta programme that offers portfolio on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) medicine at an ex-factory price of $1.
This was revealed during a dialogue on sustainable momentum towards universal health coverage in Africa, which was held in Kampala Uganda this week.
Speaking to The Citizen on the sidelines of the dialogue, the Head of East and Southern Africa Novartis Social Business, Mr Nathan Mulure, explained that the programme is expected to kick off in June this year.
“After concluding the deal we expect to be able to reach more patients at a lower cost of $1 ex-factory price, and with this, the NCDs challenge will be tackled to some extent,” said Mr Mulure.
He said theprogramme—Norvatis Access—is being carried out in in middle and low income countries to ensure affordability and ease accessibility of medicine.
Up until now, several countries in Africa, including Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia, have already adapted the programme and it has proved to be fruitful, he said.
Despite the affordability and ease accessibility of the medicine,MrMulure said the challenges still lies in the lack of screening by most patients.
“Most people wait until they are sick to seek medical attention but this can be avoided by regular screening and living a healthier life style,’’ he said.
For his part, the director general of the Medical Stores Department (MSD),Mr Laurean Bwanakunu, said the programme would minimise the cost that the government incursin acquiring medicines.
“Currently, for the Ocean Road Cancer Institute alone, almost Sh1.5 billion is spent per month to acquire medicine but with the $1 price, the cost will be lowered and the medication will be accessible to everyone in need,’’ said Mr Bwanakunu.
In order to ensure that quality medicines are available in the country, the government plansto not only go for price reduction but also look on packaging, delivery schedule and mixture of varieties from different countries.